'Toy Story 4' Director Josh Cooley, Producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen Featured in Hollywood Reporter's 'Behind the Screen' Podcast

"The ending wasn't always the ending. That was the biggest change," Cooley admits, revealing an earlier version of the story.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley and producers Mark Nielsen and Jonas Rivera are featured in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter's Behind the Screen.

During the conversation, the filmmakers reveal an earlier ending to the story. "The ending wasn't always the ending. That was the biggest change," Cooley says, adding that "it didn't have the weight of earning the title of Toy Story 4."

Rivera adds that Woody's "real change was when he met [Bo Peep, voiced by Annie Potts] for the second time."

In the conversation, the team also discusses topics including new characters, production design, music, Easter eggs and the delicate animation.

Led by production designer Bob Pauley, more than 10,000 items filled the Second Chance antique store in the movie. This includes numerous Easter eggs such as a black-and-white portrait of Geri from Pixar's Oscar-winning short Geri's Game. Meanwhile, an antique record player is used to bring the music from The Shining into the setting.

New characters include Ducky and Bunny, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. The pair recorded together and much of their improv is in the movie, "They know each other so well. They know what the other person is going to say ahead of time," says Cooley.

The team adds that Keanu Reeves really got into his role as Duke Caboom. "He got so excited he stepped up on the table and said, 'I'm Duke Caboom,' and started posing," recalls Cooley.

Mr. Potato Head was famously voiced by Don Rickles, who died in 2017. The filmmakers explain that with the permission of his estate, Pixar pieced together his dialogue from past recordings. "You can't have Toy Story without Don Rickles," says Rivera.

Hosted by THR tech editor Carolyn Giardina, Behind the Screen features conversations with the talent behind the making of motion pictures and series programs. This includes directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, VFX pros and composers.

Hear it all below on Behind the Screen — and be sure to subscribe to the podcast to never miss an episode.